EVEN at the ripe old age of 88, that famously caustic sense of humour hasn’t left Tommy Docherty. “I don’t see too many of my former team-mates these days,” he starts. “Although that’s probably because most of them are dead.”

In contrast, The Doc, it can be happily reported, sounds in fine fettle. Still a regular on the after-dinner speaking circuit when he’s not doing a turn on cruise ships around the world, he will return to his hometown of Glasgow this weekend to take to the stage as part of the second Legends of Football evening. Appearing alongside former Rangers stars John Greig and Willie Henderson, the former Chelsea, Manchester United and Scotland manager – and a host of other clubs beside - is a late replacement for Denis Law who has had to withdraw on grounds of ill health.

It is not the first time, of course, that Docherty has seen Law off the premises. As United manager in 1973, he went against the wishes of Sir Matt Busby by allowing the then 33 year-old striker join rivals Man City and lived to regret it. Law’s famous back-heel goal in the derby the following season is often mistakenly credited as being the one that relegated United but, even if results elsewhere sent them down anyway, it remains an iconic image. “What a player Denis was, although I could have strangled him that day,” says Docherty. “But football always has a habit of producing these sort of moments.”

Docherty was United manager for five years and left in 1977 having collected the second division trophy, the FA Cup, and the physio’s wife. That last act effectively led to him being sacked from Old Trafford but, given he and the former Mrs Mary Brown are still an item almost 40 years later, there can be no regrets. It is Mary who answers the phone on this occasion and apologies in advance for shouting at great volume to get Tommy’s attention in the same way her husband used to bawl at footballers from the sidelines. It is a certainly an effective strategy as moments later Tommy appears on the line.

He is happy to see United operating again towards the top end of the Premier League following several fallow years but is not a huge fan of the man credited for their mini-revival. “Jose Mourinho? He’s done okay but if he were made of chocolate he would eat himself. And look at the money he’s spent. Fergie sold [Paul] Pogba for about a million quid and they then paid about 900 million [sic] to get him back. That was good business, wasn’t it?”

He has fallen out of love with the club, too, and won’t be back at Old Trafford any time soon after they invited him to a match a few years back and then later billed him for the tickets. Instead, he drops by to see watch rivals City whenever the mood takes him, while he retains an affection for Chelsea for whom he played then managed in the 1960s.

“Chelsea have sent me a Christmas hamper from Harrods for the last 18 years that must cost around £300,” he reveals. “That’s a terrific gesture and I still go to Stamford Bridge to watch them about four times a year. So there are big clubs that act like big clubs, and some that act like small clubs. I won’t be back at United after them charging me for my tickets about three years ago. I got an invoice for £88 for two seats so that was it for me. If I fancy a game locally I’ll phone up Mike Summerbee at City and they always look after me. But I’m done with United.”

Docherty hasn’t lived in Scotland for almost 70 years but Glasgow remains his home and Celtic are still his club. He fulfilled a boyhood ambition when he signed for them after completing his national service, spending two years there before embarking on a playing career that took him to Preston North End, where he made more than 300 appearances, Arsenal and then Chelsea.

“I’m still a Glasgow boy at heart and I wouldn’t change that for all the tea in China. It’s great coming up the road and I’ve got some great memories still from the early days. Back in 1947 I came back from my national service in Palestine on the Saturday, went to York on the Sunday to get de-mobbed, then signed for Celtic on the Monday,” he retrieves from the memory banks. “That was quite a weekend. I still remember going to my first Celtic versus Rangers game just before the war. The Celtic team was Kennaway, Hogg, Morrison, Geatons, Lyon, Paterson, Delaney, McDonald, Crum, Divers, and Murphy. You never forget something like that.”

The current Celtic side continue to impress him, too. He was at Parkhead earlier this season to take in the 5-1 win over Rangers and continues to follow the team’s progress, even if the lack of competition is something that frustrates rather than pleases him.

“They are that far ahead this season that the league is finished already. You’d like to see someone give them a game but it doesn’t look as if that’s going to happen. But as a Celtic fan it’s great to see them doing so well. Brendan Rodgers is a terrific manager.”

He has sympathy, too, for Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager - a role Docherty filled for just over a year after earlier earning 25 caps as a player – and their ongoing aversion to appearing at major finals.

“There isn’t too much to shout about with regards to the national team unfortunately. But we just don’t have the players. There are so many foreigners in the league and the Scots aren’t really getting a chance. Not making the Euros last summer was a blow. That was a real sore one to take.”

He is enthused about the prospect of returning to Glasgow for the weekend, and the chance to catch up with Greig and Henderson among others.

“It will be good to see the old faces like wee Willie and Ham and Egg [Greig] again and have a bit of banter about the old days. I’m looking forward to it. The memories always come flooding right back.”

- Tommy Docherty, Willie Henderson and John Greig are appearing as part of the Legends of Football series at the Clyde Auditorium on Saturday at 7pm. Tickets and information from https://legendsof-football.com/